Hair length and hair styles may seem like a purely fashion issue. Sometimes long hair gets in style, sometimes short hair gets in style, so what? However, upon closer examination, we see that hair styles have played an important role in religion and politics.
In fact, what we consider to be attractive hair styles today, is strongly influenced by religious text and sometimes political context.
“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” ~~[1 Corinthians 11:14-15]
Even today, it is much more socially acceptable for men to wear their hair short. Similarly, it is usually considered more attractive for women to keep their hair long. Short hair is commonly looked upon as a masculine trait, while long hair is considered a feminine trait.
Long Hair or Short Hair?
In my informal Attractive Women Survey –
- Only 5% of respondents picked short hair as being attractive on women.
- In contrast, a whopping 70% prefer long hair, out of over 5000 votes.
In my informal Attractive Men Survey –
- Only 8% of respondents picked long hair as being attractive on men.
- In contrast 48% prefer short hair, out of over 1000 votes.
These results are very much in line with the socially accepted norm that women should have long hair, and men should have short hair.
A 2008 poll reported by the Daily Mail also showed similar results, with 56% of men preferring long hair on women (43% prefer long and wavy hair, and 13% prefer long and straight hair). Only 22% of the the men picked a short hairstyle (e.g. classic bob, pixie crop, bowl cut).
Why Is Long Hair Attractive for Women?
More formal scientific studies also show that hair length is significantly correlated with female attractiveness, when rated by both men and women. Furthermore,
A significant correlation between hair length and age indicated that younger women tend to have longer hair than older women. Hair quality was correlated with women’s health. Consistent with the principle of intersexual selection, the results of this study indicate that hair length and quality can act as a cue to a woman’s youth and health and, as such, signify reproductive potential.
Shiny, strong hair provides a cue to recent good health, developmental condition, and genotypic quality. Tellingly, long hair is often preferred across cultures, and long, lustrous hair is often associated with beauty (Etcoff, 1999).
~~[The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology by David M. Buss]
In short, long hair is often associated with beauty in women because it is highly correlated with youth, health, and reproductive potential.
Does Hair Matter?
It may be more politically correct to say that “hair does not matter” or that hair length and style is purely superficial.
However, this is clearly not true, as is shown by the scientific studies cited above. This is why hair care products are a multi-billion dollar business. Both men and women are willing to spend large amounts of money to regrow hair, style hair, and keep their hair looking shiny and healthy.
Healthy hair is often seen as a sign of youth, energy, and vitality. A person with a healthy, full head of hair can also appear more confident and successful.
Hair is also seen as a symbol of status and wealth. In the past, rich Roman women wore complex hairstyles that required a lot of labor to maintain. Today, wealthy women and celebrities often set the fashion for everyone else.
Hair and Social Identity
Hair length and style was often used as an indication of social identity and group membership. Hippies, for example, kept their hair long to challenge the prevailing gender differences of their time. Similarly, the flappers in the 1920s wore their hair short and bobbed, as a challenge against the more traditional roles of women.
Religions may also set rules as to how men and women should wear their hair. Much of what we consider to be socially acceptable hairstyles for men and women today, are likely influenced, in no small part, by these religious rules. Some religions may require a woman to cover her head and hair as a sign of modesty. Hair coverings, however, are not solely for women. Sikh men usually keep their hair uncut, tied in a bun, and covered with a turban.
Hair Length and Facial Features
Whether a particular hairstyle is attractive or not, depends to some degree on the shape of our face, and on our facial features.
However, a study by Bereczkei and Mesko also show the following –
The present study shows that the physical appearance of long-haired women was rated high, regardless, of whether their facial attractiveness was valued high or low.
~~[Bereczkei T., Mesko N. (2006) Hair length, facial attractiveness, personality attribution: a multiple fitness model of hairdressing. Review of Psychology 13: 1-60]
This study shows that long hair is a preferred feminine trait, irrespective of facial shape and features.
Long Hair or Short Hair?
The polls and scientific studies above show that long hair is a strong feature associated with feminine attractiveness. This is likely because long hair is associated with reproductive success.
The attractiveness of long hair on men is less clear since reproductive health issues are less relevant. As a result, hair length on men is more strongly influenced by political, cultural, religious, and economical factors.
i have short hair when i cut it down it was very nice on me but now it is longer but it doesn’t reaches my shoulders it is too ugly on me but i think long hair is nice on me too perhaps for round faces long hair is better
Big Red says
I’m a man with long hair, and the hair has been an issue sometimes with women who otherwise really liked me i.e. became good friends instead. I think some guys can pull it off with the right combination of facial structure, head size, and hair style. I have kind of a large head to begin with, plus my hair tends to “puff out” a lot because it’s lightweight & curly/wavy. So maybe the combination doesn’t work for me.
I think men or women have the same rights to have long hair I think that is bull shit that men can’t have long hair that would be saying women can’t have short hair
I think it depends on the lady. I think Miley Cyrus looks better with long hair but I’ve seen women pull off short hair pretty well.
I am a guy with long hair or, well, medium length (reaches my shoulders).
The statistics don’t really bother me. I enjoy having long hair. I think that it suits me. I also think that that’s enough.
I have found if a women who has had long hair if they cut it short or get that buzzcutt style like mily sirus I just lose all attraction for them.. No idea why.
Totally had that experience! I don’t know why tho?
Thick hair such as mine, alingveuth it’s wavyness it’s impossible to take care of. That’s why I cut it short. And I personally think that short hair gives a rebellious look
to that person
I tend to like men that prefer short hair on women
Damn long hair sucks,I prefer a woman to have…..maybe kinda Emo look
I think men in general like long hair. But i think its dumb if thats what they are only looking for in a women. What about facial features? i would rather have a pretty face and nice amount of hair than an ugly face with long hair. I mean hair grows but pretty doesnt. If the study is accurate than men are dumb too only want that. Hair doesnt make a women more attractive.
Well what if you have baby fine hair like mine and cannot wear your hair longer than a chin length bob.
I am married and always get enough attention from men.
I think its about the whole package….
i do vote for a long hair for a woman
I do to
see i love short hair because i have such thick wavy hair and its really hard to maintain. but i feel like my face looks thinner when my hair is longer. but my hubby likes my hair longer he says that my hair is really nice and is a shame if i cut it all off lol. i think he just likes it for kinky purposes lol.
LisaRene Burt says
I love my long hair…
Good research about long hair and short hair. Mostly women prefer long hair. I too vote for long hair. Thank u for sharing this hub.
Like Long Hair
Samuel Andrew Murphy says
Yes I think all that bull shit of men not having long hair is crap I think men have all the rights women do to grow long hair that would be saying women can’t have short hair